Islam's holiest month is now upon us, with the appearance of the crescent moon in the sky. Ramadan is a month of fasting and reflection, in which Muslims perform acts of charity and spend time with their loved ones. In this post, we'd like to explain some of the history behind this month and how it has adapted through modern times.
Ramadan is the month in the Islamic calendar in which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance and rules for all Muslims. In reflection of this, the month is seen as a time to consider others and spend less time on the trivialities of everyday life. It's one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the others being prayer, faith, charity and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. It's observed by fasting during daylight hours, with meals before sunrise (suhoor) and after sunset (iftar).
There are more than one billion Muslims spread out across the world, many of whom have to adapt their Ramadan preparations around other responsibilities and differences in latitude.
A huge number of professional Muslim athletes are tasked with finding a way to compete at the top level through the month of fasting. Hajra Khan, the captain of the Pakistan women's football team, has developed several coping strategies in order to maintain her performance alongside non-Muslim athletes. She says that her fasting "only makes her faith stronger" and is a big believer in proper hydration.
However, some Muslims encounter issues simply due to where they live - such as those living in places where the sun barely sets in the summertime, such as Iceland or Alaska. There's much debate as to whether Muslims in these locations should follow the local timings, meaning suhoor and iftar are only a few hours apart, or adhere to Mecca's sunrise and sunset times, as these are the ones referred to in the Quran's verses on the subject.
Both men and women are expected to wear more modest Islamic clothing than usual, as Ramadan is a month of reflection and devotion to Allah. This could include a simple abaya and darker hued hijab combination - whatever best reflects your mood during this time of charity and being with your family. Of course, there's time to diversify your wardrobe during Eid Al-Fitr, so it's important to exercise some modesty in what you wear in the month of Ramadan.